Kanagawa Prefecture has a project called the “Forest of Growing 成長の森.” Starting every April, Kanagawa Green Trust solicits 3000 yen donation from families of a kid aged less than 20 years old. Families don’t have to live in Kanagawa Prefecture. (If you consider the donation, credit cards welcome, please click here for more info.) The Trust then pools the money to procure seedlings for afforestation, and organizes an event next March in a forest owned by the prefecture where the donors can spend a fun weekend of planting the seedlings. A public land for the Forest of Growing is always in Okuyama 奥山. “Oku” in Japanese means “somewhere beyond the familiar environment.” Thrilling! The afforested place is called such as “2007 Forest of Growing,” and the prefectural government manages it as a part of the “50 Year Plan for Regenerating Forests of Kanagawa Prefecture かながわ森林再生50年構想.” (More to this policy in my later post.) The prefecture also prepares a name plate of the kid if a family wants to commemorate their afforestation at the site, i.e., they can choose anonymous. The families can visit the place whenever they like, and the Trust arranges roughly twice a year events for the donor families directly to take care of the place, such as weeding. Basically, the prefectural government guarantees the families that the Office looks after their trees for a long, very long, term. Since 2013 the event is held in the 21st Century Forest 21世紀の森 where the afforestation site has easier access by car. The families for the 21st Century Forest are planting no-pollen cedars produced in Dr. Hidetsugu Saitoh’s labo in Kanagawa Nature Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター. As a part of prefectural industrial policy, the forest with vehicle approach is for forestry so that the planted trees are planned to be the subject of regular thinning for market. The final few are expected to create a forest of gigantic cedars that can count 500 years or more for their life. In effect, Kanagawa Prefecture declares that they are ready to commit that much time for the site in the 21st Century Forest. Wow …
cedar tree at the entrance of Yadoriki Shrine,|
near Yadoriki Forest.
It is estimated to be at least 500 years old
with approx. 6m circumference and 33m tall.
It’s designated as one of the best 100 trees of Kanagawa.
The class of FY2007 was the first for the Forest of Growing, and FY2017 is its 11th. The first site for the project was Yadoriki Water Conservation Forest やどりき水源林 that became full in 2012. The chosen places in Yadoriki Forest are a bit different from the current site: they are not at all vehicle friendly. Yadoriki Forest was once a property of Tokugawa Shogunate. At the time of Meiji Restoration, a private corporation, Morimura-gumi Co., legally established the ownership there, and started forestry business. Morimura-gumi later became Morimura Brothers Inc. to create Noritake Co., Toto, and NGK, but withdrew from forestry altogether in 2000. Since then, Yadoriki Forest is a public land of Kanagawa Prefecture, as a water conservation forest. Due to this historical background, the area was once completely artificial forest of cedars and cypresses for commercial purposes. However, the place is not easy for forestry. It has a typical soil structure of very steep Tanzawa mountains with Yadoriki Stream 寄沢 that is the source of Sakawa River 酒匂川 running to the City of Odawara 小田原市. The place is famous for landslide.
|The cedars in Yadoriki Forest, roughly 60 years of age|
The mountains in Kanagawa Prefecture are created 500-400 million years ago when the volcanic islands, such as the former apparition of Izu Peninsula 伊豆半島, in Pacific Ocean crushed with Honshu Island as Eurasian and Philippines Plates creaked each other. When the plate tectonic incidence occurred, the magma flushed out from the deep and extremely rapidly cooled to be granites (a-hem, rapidly for the planet, that is; it is estimated within 200 million years after the crush). It makes the ground below the thin top soil, made of ashes from Mt. Fuji, brittle and very prone to landslide, especially where sheer slopes divided by lots of small streams are covered by artificial forest, like Yadoriki Forest. Be that as it may the Great Kanto Earthquake, or regular flush floods by typhoons, the place suffered a lot. After every disaster Morimura-gumi replanted the trees, but in the end they gave up. Yodoriki Forest was once a popular gateway to climb Mt. Nabewari (鍋割山 1272m ASL), Mt. Ameyama (雨山 1176m ASL), and Mt.Hinokidakka (檜岳 1167m ASL) via gorge scrambling. It was an entrance to exciting adventure, but the crumbly route higher up along the stream claimed lots of sliding down to death. Now, the river side has several memorials which mourn the lost souls including a high school girl and her teacher who tried to save her in 1970 … The route is for well-seasoned veterans of Tanzawa. Yadoriki Forest is a quiet place.
reaching to the entrance of Yadoriki Forest,|
we meet several points
where the meshed protection for the forestry road
has collapsed due to a mini landslide, like this.
The ground is naturally fragile.
Rather than to struggle for commercial viability in a hostile territory, the designers of the Yadoriki Forest at the Pref. Government decided to re-create more natural habitat to stabilize the ground. The place is an example for prefectural policy Dr. Jun Tamura of Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center mentioned last year during the Forest Instructor Training. First, the prefecture thinned the once-commercial forest to let the sunshine reach to the ground for more undergrowth that can prevent soil erosion. The Office also cleared completely here and there the slopes and organized the “Forest of Growing” events for planting seedlings of broad-leaved trees, instead of conifers. In order to secure the biodiversity in DNA, the plantlets were from the seeds procured from nearby mountain forests of Tanzawa whose elevation is similar to Yadoriki Forest (500-600m ASL). They are Zelkova serrata, Magnolia obovate, Acer palmatum, Cerasus jamasakura, Quercus acutissima, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, and Cornus kousa. Together with cedars and cypresses planted by Morimura Bro. Inc., they are to show mosaic pattern at tree canopy, and at the bottom to have soil conservation function which is a foundation for biodiversity, water source protection, and greenhouse gas absorption. In April 2017, they have already started to show a beautiful mosaic pattern over the mountain surface. The color of the entire Yadoriki Forest looks like a masterpiece of Impressionist paintings. Ever subtle gradation of greens covers the entire slope elegantly. With jolly chatters of wild birds and rapid flow of Yadoriki Stream, the place is a hidden gem … Well, you may think for mandarins it’s an easier task than repeating commercial afforestation. They just gave a small help for the nature to restore their unaffected face after heavy human interventions, didn’t they? Wishful thinking. To see why, let’s dive in Yadoriki Forest.
If you find environmental problems in Yadoriki Forest, please make a contact to
Kanagawa Nature Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター
657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 〒243－0121 厚木市七沢657